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Kokedama: The Fragmented Garden
Installation by Paul Chartrand
Closing Reception Sunday 19 October 1PM

Flea Market Gallery at the Factory Outlet Flea Market
46 Turner Cres, St Catharines


Kokedama is a form of bonsai which originated in Japan during the 1600s. A bonsai tree would be grown inside a pot until the root ball was tight enough that it could be removed and displayed without the vessel. Eventually moss became part of the style, covering the root ball with green growth, to be shown on a plate or bowl. This style has been appropriated by a growing number of artists and gardeners in a new format of hanging gardens, where the roots are wrapped with string before being hung in the air. These suspended plants are unique microcosms of larger ecosystems, taking fragmented elements and uniting them into delicate living orbs.

These common plants such as ferns, moss and vines have been brought indoors to encourage a tactile and sensory experience which is normally taken for granted. Despite their mundane appearances, they are all components in a greater living framework which supports and drives the biosphere. The installation is connected through a central support system reminiscent of a tree’s structure. This main trunk branches out and supports all of the smaller kokedama balls, representing the reactionary efforts of people to reverse the growing problem of ecosystem fragmentation. These gardens require the careful observation and maintenance provided by the artist and the support apparatus, or they risk dying off one by one, like the green spaces of southwestern Ontario and beyond.

Paul Chartrand is an artist living and working in Dunnville, Ontario. He recently graduated from the University of Guelph with a BA major in Studio Art and a Geography minor. He consistently investigates the combination of natural and man-made aesthetics in his works, resulting in sculptural and representational hybrids. Social Practice and live plants are used as metaphors for a range of environmental and cultural issues; both are elements that Paul has been exploring since his final year at Guelph in 2013.


Painting from the Scrapbook Series
Melanie MacDonald
Reception on Saturday 18 October 2PM – 4PM
I’ve booked a homecoming exhibit in the Dennis Tourbin Members Gallery at NAC featuring select works from my ongoing series of scrapbook paintings. You’re invited to a reception on the afternoon of Saturday 18 October from 2:00PM to 4:00pm or to view the work during NAC gallery hours between Wednesday 15 October and Friday 31 October. There will be coffee, baked goods and liquor.

Melanie MacDonald lives in downtown St. Catharines and is an active member of the Niagara Artists Centre. She has participated in group and solo exhibitions in Niagara, Hamilton, London, Kingston, Toronto, Western New York and Quebec. Her work was selected to appear in Carte Blanche 2: Painting, Magenta Publishing’s national survey of Canadian painters. In 2009 she received a Trillium Excellence in the Arts Emerging Artist Award from the City of St. Catharines. She has been the recipient of numerous Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance grants.


– AND –

Pounce On the Now!
Beginning at 4:30PM

I’m slapping an incongruous get-together on the tail end of Mellie’s exhibit at 4:30PM, also on Saturday 18 October at NAC. I’m going to play for your listening and viewing entertainment best bits by two cats I dig very much. Stick around and celebrate the work of Lord Buckley and Harry ‘The Hipster’ Gibson.

The following anecdote, as told by Harry, will introduce the uninitiated to these seldom-heralded great artists of the Twentieth Century.


Now we ain’t got no bread, little by little we’re runnin’ out o’ bread. Finally, we get the paper. We gotta get jobs, we gotta get some bread here. We’re walkin’ along the street and there’s a guy sellin’ ice cream out of a freezer on one o’ those big three-wheeler bicycles.

This guy’s a wino. I said, “Hey, man, where’d you get that gig? You can’t have any references!” He says, “Oh man, you just go down to the ice cream place, walk in, they give you a bike and some ice cream and you go out and sell it.”

So we go downtown the next mornin’! They said, “You guys got any experience?” I said, “Uh yeah, I used to sell ice cream up in the Bronx! This guy here’s from Chicago, he used to sell ice cream at the ballgame!” So, first thing we do is we take the bikes and we ride ‘em back to our pad and the kids are out there: “Hey, look at that!” “Yeah, we’re ice cream men now.” They thought it was really great—we’re handin’ it out.

We’re ridin’ down the street and we come to a big construction site with guys all over the place. But when they come over they say, “There ain’t no popsicle guys ever come around here! Smart guys carry wine, we buy wine from some of these guys for twenty-five cents.” “Ohhh yeah?!” “Yeah, you bring some wine around.” Man, what are we doin’ sellin’ ice cream?

Boom—we go to the store, we buy ourselves a couple o’ big jugs of wine, stick it in the ice thing—Boom—we come back, nice cold wine and some cups. Now we’re sellin’ wine for twenty-five cents a cup. The first thing you know, man, we’re just rakin’ in dollars, not a lot, a dollar here a dollar there. But what’re we gonna do with the ice cream?

We’re in a poor neighbourhood—a black neighbourhood—you know when the black neighbourhoods are poor down there, they’re dirt poor. They got beat-up old shacks and kids runnin’ around in the street, they ain’t got nothin’. “Anybody want some ice cream here? Here it is free! We’re gonna give it away!”

We start givin’ the ice cream away, we gotta get rid of it—Boom Boom Boom—and we gave all the ice cream away. We go back to the construction site—Bam—the guys are ready for some more wine. Boom—we sell ‘em some more wine. We get ourselves a pocketful of bread.

All of a sudden it’s five o’clock, we suppose these guys gotta split. We go back to the ice cream place. The boss comes out: “Hey, look at these guys. They sold all the ice cream! Hey, you guys must be some ice cream salesmen!” “Well, I was the best ice cream salesman in New York and this is the best ice cream man from Chicago. Sure we’re the best! How much we do owe?” Boom—we paid off the ice cream, we got bucks, we go back, we score. It ain’t like show business!

We’d be ridin’ along, some guy’d come up, big Continental car, pull up and say, “Hey, ain’t you The Hipster? Is that Lord Buckley over there? What are you guys doin’?” I say, “We’re retired—we don’t work no more. We quit show business. Yeah, we quit! We’re in business of our own now.”

Everybody in town knew us. I was writin’ a tune we used to sing: “Pop, Pop, Pop, Here Comes the Popsicle Man.” It just went on, but in the meantime, we’re still lookin’ for gigs. We’re livin’ in the Cigar Box and the beat-up storefront.

They finally got wise to us sellin’ the wine. The guy who checks up on the ice cream people happened to come drivin’ by: “Oh man, you can’t do that! That’s against the law!” He was afraid that he was gonna get put in jail for what we were doin’, we ain’t supposed to be sellin’ wine out of his ice cream carts, so we said, “Oh, in that case we quit!”


— Harry ‘The Hipster’ Gibson on the Miami scene in the late 1950s,
   interviewed by Kirk Silsbee, 1983

Ontario Arts Council – Exhibition Assistance
Friday 24 October 2014 5PM

What is the Exhibition Assistance program?
The Exhibition Assistance program provides grants of $500 to $1,500 to assist individual artists with costs related to presenting their work in confirmed, upcoming exhibitions. Artists apply to third-party recommender organizations located throughout the province. The recommenders are public galleries, artist-run centres and other visual and media arts organizations that administer the Exhibition Assistance program and make grant recommendations to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC).

The program aims to reflect the range of artistic practices in the visual arts, media arts and craft communities and to support excellence, regional activity, linguistic and cultural diversity and Aboriginal and Franco-Ontarian identity.

Application details are available here